A spoonful of sweet lychee bites, jackfruit slices, chewy jellies, and ice cold coconut milk, sounds refreshing doesn’t it? Chè Thái is more than just a sweet soup or fruit cocktail, it’s a dessert that packs in a lot of flavor in just one bite.
Luckily, this dessert is super simple to make because the use of canned tropical fruit makes it readily available and you can customize it based on the different fruits you prefer.
This dessert doesn’t have shaved ice, but its mix of ingredients often reminds me of chè ba màu, or halo-halo.
Chè Thái is a Vietnamese version of a similar Thai dessert named “Tub Tim Krop,” a dish that is a combination of water chestnuts and coconut milk. The water chestnuts are coated in red food coloring, covered in tapioca starch, and boiled, which gives the chestnuts a shiny crimson shade that resembles its nickname as “red rubies.”
The red rubies
Chè Thái takes on this base of “red rubies” and coconut milk and adds even more delicious fruits and jellies. I like to add canned longans, lychees, jackfruit, ai-yu jelly, and toddy palms. The great part about this dessert is that you have the option to use other types of fruit or items, like coconut, grass jelly, or tapioca balls.
To make make the “red rubies,” you only need about half of the canned water chestnuts. Cut the water chestnuts into ¼ inch pieces, mix with red food coloring, and coat with tapioca starch. Now boil the water chestnuts in batches and remove when they begin to float.
Immediately put them in an iced water bath. The longer you keep them in the water, the chewier they will be, so I like to keep them in for at least 10 minutes.
For the canned fruit, be sure to save the syrup inside one of the cans because you will use this as a sweetener later. (Using only one can of syrup helps emphasize the sweetness without muddling the taste.) Cut all the fruit into bite sized pieces and put them into a large punch bowl along with the “red rubies.”
To finish this fruit cocktail, I use coconut milk and add the juice and meat of one coconut for extra flavor into the punch bowl. (If you don’t have this on hand, you can also use half and half or heavy whipping cream.) Since I like extra sweetener in my chè Thái, I also add some of the leftover syrup from the canned fruit.
You can chill the chè Thái by adding ice, but I like to make this ahead of time and place it in the refrigerator for one or two hours so that the ice doesn’t water down the flavor. I like to serve this for parties since you can share with so many people!
What is Vietnamese Chè?
Chè in Vietnamese describes sweet desserts that come in liquid forms, like drinks, pudding, or even types of ‘soup.’